Matt Griffis met Travis Fulgham for the first time on the Friday before the start of two-a-day-practices in the summer of 2013. The only thing the Broad Run High coach knew about Fulgham was that the senior transfer’s father had emailed a few days earlier to say his son, who had played one year of football, was interested in joining the team.
A few years later, Fulgham would become the first Broad Run player to be selected in the NFL draft. But in that moment, on that Friday, Griffis was just relieved to see that at least this new kid had some size. He was around 6-foot-3 with a solid build. It took a few more days for Griffis to realize Fulgham would do more than just make the team
“At first, he just looked the part,” Griffis said. “But in those days we were still running the [40-yard dash] in practice, and when he ran the 40, I said, ‘Umm, okay, this kid runs like a deer.’ ”
In the years since, Fulgham has used that blend of size and speed to defy the odds on his nontraditional path, slowly climbing each ladder he has encountered: first at Broad Run, then at Old Dominion and now in the NFL.
One of the league’s biggest surprises this fall, Fulgham will take the field for the Philadelphia Eagles against the visiting Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night as a certified weapon, a skilled and dangerous wideout playing a key role in the NFL.
“There’s certain people that you meet that take every setback and turn it into a comeback,” former Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder said. “That’s who Travis is. He has written a phenomenal comeback story.”
Traveling toward football
Fulgham’s story began abroad; he spent most of his childhood overseas. Both of his parents were in the Foreign Service, and after they divorced, he spent time living with his mother in Jordan, Egypt, South Africa and India, according to ESPN. In high school, he joined his father, who was living in Virginia. That’s where Fulgham found football.
His first experience with the sport came at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, where he initially played basketball and soccer. He was asked to join the football team ahead of his junior year and took to the game quickly. But by the end of his junior year, he knew he would have to transfer to a bigger program if he wanted to pursue a pro career. By the end of that summer, his dad was emailing Griffis about a potential addition to the team.
Griffis told Fulgham that he would have to start at the bottom and work his way up, but the coach didn’t think the work would come so easy to the transfer. Fulgham was a starter by the time the season opener arrived, and he quickly established himself as a